THE SUNSHINE SHOWDOWN: Scenes 1-2

Scene 1: San Fransisco

Joe Frazier & the Knockouts are performing at the Winterland venue – Frazier sings a medley;

Repertoire
Knock On Wood
Like a Knock-Out drop
First Round Knock Out
They Bigger They Come

Frazier
So that’s all folks, tomorrow morn, y’see,
Joe Frazier & The Knockouts, this brave band
Take venture of a European tour
Endeavouring the chance to have some fun
To see the world, sharing a native song
We don’t expect to set the world alight
But I’ve loved singing all my lucky life
& singing’s harder far than boxing’s art
But easy seems in Cisco, what a crowd
Appreciation is the spur of art
Without a Renaissance would Raphael
Ever have deliver’d godframed visions
Without the operas of Vienna
Wold ever have Herr Mozart humm’d a tune
No, not at all, without an audience
Each War in Peace is merely book of of words
& so, wheree’erso in this world we go,
We’ll always take a slice of you guys with,
Our thanks to all who came, & good night all.



Scene 2: Dublin

A TV Studio / enter the presenter, Cathal O’Shannon

Cathal
Pugilist & poet, King of the Hype
With his rhetoric he makes the ring ring
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
Just mentioning his name starts great debates
Is he super boxer or superstar
The most talk’d about human in the world
Where no mortal is more synonymous
With sport than who proclaims he’s the greatest
& maybe he is – certainly I will
Not be arguing with him about that –
Deliver him an All Irish welcome
Ladies… Gentlemen.. Muhammad Ali!

Enter Muhammad Ali

Cathal
Welcome to Dublin

Ali
Its nice to be here

Cathal
You look fit, certainly, still training hard?

Ali
Well, yeah, since my last bout with Joe Frazier
I’ve fought a lot of fighters, I’ve just box’d
Jerry Quarry, I’m active & ready
A contender should stay in contention
The new tramp, oops, I mean champ, Joe Frazier
Been doin’ diddly squat, seven months rest
Between each fight, battling people even
You could beat, Cathal; no, I gotta keep
The fighting game alive, fibres of fate
Entwine with the spirit of Champions
& haunt them with a braying restlessness.

Cathal
Your Fight of the Century saw perform
Two champions – I notic’d Joe Frazier’s
Unquantifiable combination
Of youth, desire & ability true,
While for yourself all the public hatred
You had chaperon’d burst furiously,
When even your detractors show’d respect

Ali
Begrudgingly, yes

Cathal
You said you’d retire
If you lost, but of course you’ve kept going
Why so?

Ali
I thought about it once or twice
But then, one evening, when watching my wife
Give our baby milk thro’ tears & wailstrife
Whose holerings could wake the frozen dead
Expecting milk the moment cries lunge forth
Ten years from now my baby’s gonna be
Just ten years old, needing money for school
Sweets, books & busfare; parties, games & clothes
My daughter, too, on her turning twenty
She gonna need a house, I won’t see her
Working in a diner, people will say
Look at Ali’s daughters – born in riches
But given beeswings like the rest of us
I’ve still got an mighty punch left in me
Next time we meet I’ll knock Joe Frazier out
& then I’ll face your Irish champion
& knock him out the same

{LAUGHTER}

Ali
I got a laugh

Cathal
You’re in Ireland

Ali
So if I can save up
Two million dollars, how much is that

Cathal
About eight hundred thousand pounds, I think

Ali
So, if I can save a million pounds
I can relax, can sleep at ease at night
For now its gonna take a lot of work
& one has gotta work hard – nobody
Gives you anything, right

Cathal
Right, so tell me
Upon your loss to Frazier, what passions
Envelop’d cognitive recollections

Ali
Well, you tell me, people who saw the fight
Will say I claim’d the laurels of most rounds
Especially those understanding boxing
& all its clever nuances unseen
By casual spectators of the sport
I know I lost two rounds, I’ll say as much –
In the eleventh he shook me real bad
& then, of course, that knockdown in fifteen,
But all the time, for every once he struck
I’d offer four firm blows of equal mein,
So terrible the whupping what he got
He spent a weary month in hospital
Pain’d by intensive treatment, while myself
I look’d the same but for a swollen jaw
Which faded soon, no features distorted
Unlike Joe – one judge was so outrageous
He cough’d up Frazier’d won eleven rounds
Any boxing fan across the planet
Would deem impossible I’d just won four

Cathal
So, you’re hoping to fight Frazier again

Ali
Of course I am, but first he gotta come
Out of his hidey hole, dya know he bought
Some plantation deep in Alabama,
& started rearing chickens, what a joke

Cathal
How do you rate his skills as a boxer

Ali
He slugs good, yes, but shames the boxer’s art
I’ve even got a better voice than him
He was in Ireland recently, singing
That right?

Cathal
He came here touring with his band
Joe Frazier & the Knock-outs was the name

Ali
I understand he only drew eighty
In twenty-thousand seater arenas

Cathal
He did a little better over here
& drew about a thousand

Ali
If I play’d
That same venue, it would capacitate
Now let us speak of mirth & stint all this
Who told Joe Frazier he could even sing
There is music to boxing, I grant this
But gladiator’s never played the harp

Cathal
But did you not the chords joytwang yourself
On Broadway

Ali
I was in a musical
Titl’d ‘Big Time Buck Wright’ – altho’ the play
Never made it, I was a great success
The New York critics said I was perfect
So yeah, I beat Joe Frazier singing too

Cathal
Could you prove it to the Irish people

Ali
Sure I can – it would be a great honour
This is a land of song, of Galway pipes
& Dublin ditties sang by pretty girls
If its alright to enter your circle
I have a poem set in music’s field

Cathal
What is it all about

Ali
A man’s true name
I’ve found mine own? its Muhammad Ali,
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
Cocky, loquacious, fit for greatness born,
Fourth generational Kentucky slave
Root to the fruit, along paths of purpose
I trod, & knew I must discard the chains
Of given names ingrain’d with hard labour
As such was Cassius Marcellus Clay’s
Continuation of a day’s routine,
Of degradation, drudgery & death,
My cheeks deep-claw’d, flow’d tears of blood on each,
Whene’er I heard those cursed words, each time
A spike of horror in my mind! no more!
I have set myself free from tvile bondage
Possessing such a slave name doth entail,
Into the hinterlands of history
It has been cast, deep flung, with full disgust,
As from the vaults of heaven came the next
Unshackl’d from all racist crudetie,
Muhammad means ‘worthy of most praises,’
Whilst Ali means most high

Cathal
Quite beautiful
In sound & meaning, so can you tell us
Of Islamica what attracted first

Ali
Many perks, but salient among them
Is pride, some would say love, for given names;
The Chinese have Chang-Chong; & the Russians
Have Kruschev, Karpov, Korchnoi, Kasparov;
You have your Kennedys, Your O’Gradys;
The Jews have their Goldbergs, their Feigenbaums;
Africans Manbongo & Lamubo;
But American Blacks, tho’ thro’ their blood –
Do torrents of the Congo Falls hard flow –
Are nothing now but a whitewash’d negro
With names like Hawkins, Johnson, Smith & Clay…
Muhammad is a beautiful Black name
& I do say it proudly

Cathal
As you may
& few on Earth dare test your stern resolve
In any sphere, even the Supreme Court
Has bended to thy will, & set aside
The orders that tore you from your title

Ali
Let me tell you, Dermot, about my case
At first I was a thankless Antichrist
A draft-dodging antiwhite terrorist,
Helpless as fair won title stripp’d away
But nothing stops the ceaseless wheel of time
What hums with life soon crumples in the dust,
& something chang’d in America’s psyche,
Whose criminals now those who go to war,
Whose conscience is the ones who found my gloves
Classified conscientious objector
& I’ll soon fight again, we boxing sort
Must stay in port to make a patent pay

Cathal
Well, we cannot wait to hear your new song
Ladies, Gentlemen, Muhammad Ali,
Singing ‘Whats in a name’

Ali
Thank you Cathal

IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM

I found the freedom to do what I wanna do
The sum of patience & reason to think things thro
No longer under the rainclouds of painful confusion
That our socety’s under
& so I start to suggest that you do the same
There’s so much freedom in losing you chosen name
& when you’re choosing your own hang it up in a frame
That the world will look up to & wonder

Listen to me, I’m Muhammad Ali
I’m Beloved of God
You wanna be free from this state fakery
Switch your old life off
I’m Beloved of God

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